The FBI Agents Association detailed on Tuesday how the government shutdown has "compromised" some of their basic operations in a new document entitled, "Voices from the Field: FBI Agent Accounts of the Real Consequences of the Government Shutdown."
FBI agents who represent different regions explain in the report how their efforts in counter-terrorism, drug and gang enforcement, child trafficking and a host of other national security matters, are suffering.
An agent from the group’s Western Region noted how the shutdown hampered their child sexual assault cases.
"In Indian Country, agents work some of the most violent crimes and at a very high case load. The violations worked are primarily violent homicides and crimes against children, with child sexual assaults likely being 70-80% of the case load…
“FBI offices…are having investigations stalled, to include delayed forensic interviews of child victims and delaying grand jury indictments on homicides and child sexual assault prosecutions. Our child victims deserve timely interviews to increase successful preservation of their testimony. The cases are being delayed for grand jury because we can’t get medical records from certain Indian Hospitals with attorneys who are furloughed. Additionally, cases are being delayed for grand jury because investigators can’t obtain land status information, [which is necessary for jurisdiction]. The impact is we aren’t able to take cases to grand jury to seek indictments/warrants in order to get our most violent offenders arrested and justice for our victims.”
An agent from the Central Region detailed how they've had to cancel important training courses and that the shutdown was leading to victim neglect.
"Recently, we were scheduled for training [during the shutdown] regarding child abductions in our area. We have had two stranger abductions in the last year, and…we were told we had to cancel.
Victims from domestic minor sex trafficking cases are not receiving the attention they need and/or visits and counseling services. These are investigations that cross that lines…local victims in charged federal cases have been requested to fly in, prep for trial, and will not receive their witness fee or per diem monies that are deemed their right; criminal trials will move forward. Their testimony is expected, and yet, we have no way to pay for their…expenses."
Another agent from the Central Region detailed the obstacles he's facing during his investigation into "a particularly violent street gang."
"I have had to tell our local law enforcement partners that I cannot assist in funding these operations because my field office does not have money," the agent explained. "This means that the victims of those crimes and their families get no justice."
An agent who works in counter terrorism explained how Joint Terrorism Task Force officers are being “locked out” of FBI systems because their security clearance renewals are not being passed to FBI headquarters.
In a call with reporters earlier this month, FBIAA president Tom O’Connor explained that despite their dwindling funds and setbacks, agents are "on the street every day" working to protect Americans.
You can read more about the shutdown's effect on FBI agents, in their own words, here.